As ASD becomes more prevalent worldwide and the diagnosis rate continues to skyrocket, researchers in various countries continue to conduct case studies and trials regarding screening for Autism and interventions. Applied Behavior Analysis is now a universal method for the treatment of Autism via the construction and maintenance of skills and language needed for everyday life.
However, countries all over the world have various methods for approaching the treatment of Autism, where others may have significantly underdeveloped programs and even low acceptance for individuals with Autism.
One country that stands out with regards to ASD treatment is Israel.
Israel is one of the first modern nations to extensively study the effects of Cannabidiol, or CBD, on children, which reportedly helps children to cooperate better, reduces behavioral problems, and improves their overall functioning. The Israeli government is far more supportive of research and grants focused to further understanding and usage of marijuana, or more specifically, CBD, with individuals who have Autism.
Israel has developed an extensive early-Autism screening and treatment program for infants and young children. Since 1987 at MIFNE center, located in Rosh Pina, infants up to age 2 can receive short term, intensive treatment for what they call “pre-autism”. “Pre-autism” refers to the behaviors and reactions of an infant with regard to their communication development in response to parents, siblings, or other immediate family members.
Centers like MIFNE focus their treatment on pre-autistic infants in various areas- physical, cognitive, sensory, motor, emotional. Using the Reciprocal Play Therapy, therapists encompass the entire family, believing that parents are the ones who typically help their infants meet their needs in the above-mentioned areas, so they should be a large part of their child’s frontline team. The holistic approach to early-intervention includes medical, biological-mental, socio-psychological, and environmental aspects.
There are 3 steps to this treatment approach.
- Family and infant receive three weeks of intensive family treatment at the center
- Supervision from the center for the aftercare treatment in the family’s home
- The center aids in the integration into kindergarten, still under their supervision
Israeli therapists believe there are eight specific, identifying signs of communication development disorders in early infants and babies. These markers are:
- “Excessive-passivity”, or lack of crying, movement, or interest in surroundings.
- “Excessive-activity”, or continuous crying or lack of physical stillness that cannot be equated to a medical cause
- Resistance to eat/feed – lack of interest or difficulty with breastfeeding, refusal to transfer to a cup from bottle feeding, or struggling with eating solid food
- Lack of direct eye contact with people – these babies will have no problems focusing their eyes on a ball or something interesting, but they struggle to meet the eyes of another individual
- Lack of reaction to the voice or presence of a parent- if the cause is not underlying, undiagnosed deafness, infants should turn their head to see their parent, respond to their name, or smile and babble. Lack of reaction to a parent’s presence should signal concern
- Withdrawal from parental or other individual’s touch- this can stem from sensory overload, leading them to reject the touch of others as they struggle to self-regulate
- Delayed motor development – often babies later diagnosed with Autism exhibit low muscle tension, or hypotonia. As a result, their motor development is delayed
- Accelerated growth of the circumference of the head in relation to its starting point – this follows a study conducted by Courchesne in 2003 that discussed how in certain circumstances, children diagnosed with Autism started their lives with small head circumferences, but within two years, the circumference rapidly grew to a larger size than other children of the same age without an ASD diagnosis
Research studies identified 74.8% of its treated infants as later being fully functional in the mainstream educational system. Though the early detection and suggested signs of Autism in infants is not concrete, Israel has a 35-year track record for working with observed deficits early enough that children go on to thrive in their lives.